Daystate Airwolf Tactical MCT
By: Mark Camoccio
The Daystate Airwolf Tactical MCT makes a welcome return, and Mark Camoccio gets one to play with!
‘Knowing your market’ and understanding the core customer base, so to speak, is a vital requirement of any successful business. Responding to those same customers when feedback is forthcoming, is a further necessary ingredient in the mix, and pretty much essential to allow for ongoing product development.
Staffordshire based Daystate have the two-way process down to a fine art, and their current line-up of PCP’s are the direct result of front line driven field testing; whether that be from shooters on the hotly contested Hunter Field Target circuit, or professional pest controllers.
Specialist features can seem all well and good to the back room boffins, but once subjected to real world use, they can soon be deemed irrelevant or impractical. Thus designs evolve.
Race bred components help to keep Daystate near the top of the pack, and my test rifle here is the brand new version of the Airwolf Tactical MCT. This rifle was apparently one of the company’s best selling models when it was first launched back in 2008, yet after some supply issues regarding the specialist stock sourced at the time, production came to an abrupt end, leaving many a hunter mourning its passing.
A steady clamour of discontent later, and the Airwolf Tactical is now back with a vengeance! For ‘Tactical’ in airgunning circles, read black stocked and robust practicality, and this model doesn’t disappoint on either count. Externally, the Airwolf profile is near identical to that of its mechanical stablemate, the Air Ranger, yet with on-board electronic wizardry at its heart, this Tactical model takes the high-tech route to power delivery - and we’ll cover that in more detail shortly.
A shrouded barrel, electronic trigger, on-board buddy bottle, and ten shot rotary magazine, are just some of the features that make this rifle a formidable tool in the field, and given the rifle’s RRP, I suppose it comes as no surprise that the spec list just keeps going.
Companies ignore trends at their peril and so it is with the black arts. If a sizeable element of the shooting fraternity demand a field rifle sporting a non corrosive exterior, including weather resistant black furniture, then the product catalogue ought to offer one. In practical terms, this Airwolf ticks the required boxes… oh and it handles rather well too.
Daystate’s increasingly close link with Italian stock makers, Minelli, was always bound to pay dividends, and after several discussions, and much deliberation, the end result is an extremely tactile specialist stock, which somehow manages to be practical and luxurious. Unlike many ‘Tactical’ options on the market, this Airwolf stock is fashioned from traditional timber, which is then treated to a thick, rubberized black finish, and the end result is satisfying indeed. OK; it hardly rivals the look of a beautiful slab of walnut, but the practical benefits obviously appeal to many. Needless to say photos hardly do it justice, and the finish needs to be caressed to be appreciated- best described as ‘soft and grippy’.
Further cosmetic differentiation comes with the new ultra tough breech block, manufactured in a Titanium reinforced alloy, smartly etched with the rifles name in black.
Action Stations – the electronic settings
Daystate’s dramatic change of direction some years back has seen a parallel universe emerge, where staid traditionalists like myself are kept happy with conventional mechanical designs, whilst techno geeks craving ever more sophisticated electronic alternatives are fed a regular diet of cutting edge features. Suffice to say I don’t possess an I-phone, and only learnt the art of texting a year or so ago, having finally collared a ten year old in the family for a training session. I’m probably in a sizeable minority, so Daystate’s brave new world has nothing to fear.
This Airwolf Tactical sports the company’s MCT specified circuitry, which for those unfamiliar with the system, stands for ‘Mapped Compensated Technology’. In addition, it comes complete with an LCD information screen which keeps the shooter informed as to the rifles status, such as on-board residual pressure /power etc. The latest Harper patented valve system delivers metered velocity, whilst overall electrical power is derived from a Ni-MH (Nickel Metal Hydride) rechargeable battery. Once charged, the battery lasts for thousands of shots, so in practise, becomes an irrelevance. An ON/OFF key is supplied, which in turn provides an extra layer of security with these rifles. Power off the system, and the action is useless without the key, preventing misuse at a stroke.
The MCT system helps to keep velocity consistent via clever electronic power management, pre-programmed at the factory. A conventional PCP fitted with a knock open valve, will eventually show a marked power curve as the air pressure in the main cylinder reduces, and the valve is able to open more easily against less resistance. Daystate’s MCT system recognizes when cylinder pressure has reached its optimum, and compensates with a pre-calculated, ever increasing pulse of air, ideally keeping velocities within an acceptable band.
Daystate have dispensed with their multiple incremented power levels, and now offer two power settings with the Airwolf; normally set to around 780fps with JSB style pellets in .177 calibre, and 760fps at the lower level. Both power levels are set as one of several programmable options within the system. Since the programming stage is accessed by using the trigger as a switch, it’s fairly vital to first make safe the action, and with this in mind, firstly remove the ten shot magazine. Apply the safety catch. Then, whilst holding the trigger back, take off the safety. The display screen now cycles through each program in turn, bleeping the corresponding number of times relating to the command.
The test rifle came with the following electronic programmable stages:
1 Reset Magazine Count
2 Reset Shot Count: A running total of shots can be shown in the display screen if desired
3 Display Pressure: The residual pressure of the cylinder can be displayed.
4 Set Power: High Power = around 11.5ft/lbs. Power 2 = around 20fps less
5 Lighting Options: The display screen can be set to illuminate at different times
6 Magazine Count on/off: The action can be set to bleep to inform when the mag is empty
7 Single Shot on/off: Set the action to be single shot mode
8 Pressure Warning: Low pressure in the cylinder can be flagged up
9 Reset Factory Defaults
In practise, having these features is clever but once set, they needn’t be a hindrance or something to worry about, since personal taste will soon dictate which elements are of use, and which can be ignored. The electronic power delivery will quietly go about its business regardless.
One key and vital feature, for which I regularly felt grateful over the test period, was the automatic shutdown of the power after a few minutes, which saves any embarrassing dead battery scenario before a planned field trip.
Charging the Airwolf is a civilized affair, with Daystate recognizing that removing a significant section of any rifles action (i.e. the buddy bottle) just to charge the system, is not the way forward. A simple inlet valve under the action is the somewhat slicker alternative that is used on the Airwolf.
With 230bar onboard, I set about checking consistency over the chronograph, although having exhaustively tested similar actions from Daystate previously, the full charge was side stepped, confident in the knowledge that these rifles will delivery a huge shot count in either calibre. Full conservatively estimated shot counts are listed below, but my monitoring of the first 100 shots or so confirmed predictable consistency figures. Whilst energy levels were a little high (apparently the result of a hastily assembled action for this review, according to Daystate’s supremo, Tony Belas), a total spread of just 15fps with the Rangemaster pellets supplied, told me all I needed to know. The built in moderator plus add-on Reflex silencer totally tamed the muzzle report helping to make the whole experience a smooth operation
Accuracy over the test range of 35yds seemed to suggest that the barrel had a slight preference for JSB’S (Air Arms Diablo Field) when shot against the Rangemasters; but tight clusters were predictably easy to come by with both. Given this rifles field orientation, I set about evaluation from the kneeling and standing positions, and found the combination of fine balance and accommodating stock configuration resulted in some superb groupings (shot at 30yds incidentally) from both.
Daystate’s magazine system performed well for the record, although the fact that two shots can be chambered accidentally, is fast becoming an anomaly on a rifle in this class.
With Daystate currently advertising an offer for a limited period on the Tactical, it looks like a great time to consider the options. An Airstream MK5 silencer, Daystate’s new hard case and a second magazine are all being thrown in free of extra charge until at least the end of December.
No one can dispute the ingenuity of it all, and a growing army of fans worldwide, are proof that this pioneering company is clearly firing the imagination of a certain breed of airgun enthusiast, demanding high quality, niche products, offering that vital something that sets the brand apart. This re-launched Airwolf Tactical MCT just about epitomizes where the company is currently at, and as such, should help cement their position in the marketplace.
|Model||Air Wolf Tactical MCT|
|Manufacturer||Daystate Ltd. UK|
|Type||Multi-shot, bolt action pre-charged pneumatic with electronic shot management and programmable features|
|Calibre||.177 tested (.22 available)|
|Overall length||38.5inches (40.5 with silencer fitted)|
|Trigger||Fully adjustable, electronic unit|
|Stock||Gary Cane designed, walnut thumbhole sporter|
|Power source||400cc buddy bottle fitted/ 500cc option|
|Velocity||100 shots tested at 230bar using Air Arms Diablo Field pellets: Lowest 784,fps, Highest 799fps, Average 795fps, Spread 15 fps|
|Shot count||From 400cc bottle, 250-300 shots in .177 (around 400 in .22) FAC versions give approx.150 shots at 18ft/lbs in .177 (approx. 70 shots at 40ft/lbs in .22)|
|Energy||12 ft/lbs model on test|
|Price||£1260 including 10 shot rotary magazine, battery charger, filling adaptor - and included with limited offer: Spare magazine (£40), Daystate Hard case (£99) and Airstream Mk5 Silencer (£55)|
|Options||Larger 500cc buddy bottle. Additional 10-shot magazine £40, 20-shot mag £80|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates